What is the name of the electric toy car
December 8, 2014 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing some Christmas shopping for my nephew and wonder if this exists still. As a kid in the 80s I remember an electric car set where you pieced together a track and 2 matchbox size cars could zip around it with the the controller handling speed only.

You had to slow down a bit or you would fly off on corners. You could make really big tracks (maybe with multiple sets) and I think loops (like a roller coaster) were possible.

What was this called? Does it still exist for sale or is there some modern equivalent?

I'd also happily take suggestions for a kid who is into matchbox cars.
posted by ridogi to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're looking for a slot car track.
posted by Floydd at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Slot car race sets are still made.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 5:10 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

from Tyco.....of course!
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Slot cars are awesome! (but depending on the set they can take up a lot room and they're not really conducive to setting up and breaking down everytime you want to use them; they kind of want a permanent space.) I can smell the ozone just thinking about them.

For MatchBox/Hotwheels, you can never have too much track and related accessories.
posted by usonian at 6:12 PM on December 8, 2014

I remember the autistic kid living a couple of doors down from my childhood residence had a room full of Scalextric kit. Zzzzzzzzooom.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get thee to a decent hobby shop, if you can find one still around.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:08 PM on December 8, 2014

It might be a little far for you to travel but AAA Hobbies in Magnolia, NJ has a great selection of slot cars.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:55 PM on December 8, 2014

In Germany at least there is traditionally only one brand of this kind of toy: Carrera.
posted by debagel at 3:14 AM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: Tomy AFX was an electric Scalextric-style set but the cars were Hotwheels/Matchbox car sized, smaller than Scalextric cars. Because the cars were smaller and they had magnets underneath, the track could do loops and sections that went vertically up the wall.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:09 AM on December 9, 2014

Scalextric is the best known, still in production.
posted by w0mbat at 7:53 AM on December 9, 2014

Best answer: Slot cars are kind of weird in the toy world. They can be quite fiddly and fragile, and the cars and tracks can require a lot of maintenance and attention in order to work properly (it's easy to get broken electrical continuity between track sections if you're not careful). There can be hard-to-find parts that need to be replaced. So there are two approaches - the toy approach and the hobby approach.

The toy approach emphasizes out-of-the-box play and minimal maintenance. The hobby approach emphasizes frustration, expense and time-consumption. I'm only kind of joking.

Smaller-scale cars and track systems tend toward the toy category. We're talking HO and 1:43 scale. HO (which technically isn't one specific scale, but can range from about 1:64 to 1:85) cars are about the size of traditional Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars. They usually have solid metal pickups on the cars that are less fiddly than the wire braids on larger scale cars. 1:43 scale has been gaining popularity lately. They can be driven on larger scale track systems, the cars are pretty resilient and not as expensive as 1:32 or 1:24 scale cars. They are a bit more hands-on w/r/t maintenance than HO cars.

Not all manufacturers' cars will work on all track systems without modification (Carrera Go guide pins are too wide and long to work on Scalextric track for example). Also, not all track systems are compatible with each other.

Scalextric Start and Carrera Go are 1:43 scale systems which should be fun right out of the box, and there are lots of media tie-ins (Mario Kart, Star Wars, Pixar Cars etc.). Those track systems are not directly compatible with their larger counterparts, although Scalextric has an adapter so you can use it with their Sport track system.

HO can be a crapshoot. I had a Lifelike Racing set a few years ago, and brand-new out of the box it had dead track sections and required a lot of fiddling just to get a car around the track once. I returned it.

Be careful if you buy used. Scalextric, as an example, has several different track systems that are only partially compatible with each other and sellers often don't know the difference or just don't care. The slot car world on-line seems to be frozen in the Internet of 1999. The brick-and-mortar aspect of the hobby is contracting rapidly, and trying to find information and parts online can be really frustrating. There are a lot of dead links, outdated information and a bazillion variations on that one part you need to get your system working - which one will work with your system? You find a retailer with a page of exactly what you're looking for, but the sets are all out-of-stock or discontinued.

If you go with an HO set, I'd stay away from the Lifelike brand. Get extra cars if you can.

If I were buying a toy car gift for a kid, and I wanted to make sure they could reliably play with it right away, I'd get them into RC. Slot cars are great, but they are definitely a high-maintenance toy/hobby.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:18 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The most modern equivalent would be Anki Drive. These are robot race-cars the size of match-box cars, which you can drive all over the track as if they were miniature radio-controlled cars, but unlike RC cars, they know where on the track they are and where the other cars are and intelligently assist the handling. On top of that, they can change their handling in software, so the racing can incorporate virtual weapons to shoot competing cars, shields, boosts, earned performance upgrades, etc.
The track is a sheet that rolls up, so there isn't the activity of building a track out of component pieces, but on the other hand, setup and teardown can be much quicker.
The players use ios or android smartphones to drive their cars. Not all devices will run the app, so check first.
posted by anonymisc at 5:22 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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